I have trouble wrapping my head around this. Oh, and did I mention they traveled with 8 children? Their oldest was their ~17 year old son (I'm not exactly sure of his exact age at this point... and the story ends very sadly for him) down to a newborn baby who rode in a basket on the side of a pack horse. Now, leaving the very large fact that I'm not a pioneer, nor do I have any desire to be one aside, all I can do is think that I still have just too much stuff. Don't you find there is a kind of freeing aspect to knowing that you can name your possessions of one hand? Think of all the time you wouldn't spend picking them up, fussing with them, fixing them, cleaning them, worrying about them, etc. etc.
I can feel another cleaning binge coming on, so you are now forewarned but that really isn't where I wanted to go with this. Instead I want to talk about comfort and what it does to us. Now, I know one of the reasons that I don't have any desire to become a pioneer is that it is extremely hard work and can be pretty uncomfortable. While I enjoy camping, I also enjoy coming back home to my environmentally controlled house and soft bed. The difference between the two is pretty great. I have a feeling that Rebecca Boone's life, even in their more established homestead was still by modern standards extremely rustic. The difference between where she was and where she went was not so great. It is our comfortable modern life that makes it difficult to imagine selling everything and heading into the wilderness.
Our pastor posted a brief post on his blog today about the difference between stated Christian belief and giving. He asks why we think the church is so ungenerous. There are surely as many different reasons as there are people, but I think on some level it must come down to comfort. Having money, having things makes us comfortable. And comfort is not an easy thing to give up. It is safe, secure, easy, enjoyable. What's not to like? But comfort also blinds us. It blinds us as to our real need for God. It blinds us to the plight of others. It blinds us to what is really important.
God knows this. Why else would He direct us to tithe, to give generously, to give of ourselves. Yes, it is to help others, but it is also to help ourselves. If we share what we have to the point that it makes us uncomfortable (and I believe that is why the starting amount of giving in the Old Testament was set at 10% of our income), then we are forced to rely on God. Every time I sit down to the pay the bills, there is a very large part of me that wishes sitting down to pay them didn't involve anxiety. That I could sit down and know without a care that it was just a matter of writing checks and being done with it. I'm sure many of my readers wish very much the same thing. But then I wonder. Just like in The Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, where each of the chapters involves the children wishing for something and then really wishing they hadn't wished for it at all, I wonder if I would end up wanting to change my wish.
Because if my finances were unthinkingly easy, I would also miss out on knowing without a doubt that God does provide for us. I can't tell you how it all works out, but it does. There have been some miracle-type instances, others have been God using other people to help us, and more often, with what should be an unworkable financial situation, we somehow manage to squeak by. On paper, it looks insane to think we can make this work, but we don't, God does. And I can also tell you, I find it much easier to give to my church and to others because of this first-hand knowledge of provision.
This doesn't meant that God wants us to be miserable and that if we experience any comfort at all, we are somehow out of God's will. Do not make that mistake. God promises us green pastures, still waters, and an overflowing cup. But be aware of the source of your comfort. Is it from money, position, or material possessions? Do you hold onto to these lightly enough so that if God told you to sell them you could... or would you turn away sadly like the rich young ruler, because this is just something you couldn't do? But if your comfort comes from God, from the surety that He does provide enough, then this is true comfort and one that can be fully enjoyed.
This is also why I share with you some of the orphans who desperately need a family. Are you too comfortable to consider turning you life upside down for one of these children? Or if that seems to hard right off the bat, how about making a financial contribution towards the surgery for this little guy?